Stacey Abrams-founded New Georgia Project launched a voter registration campaign in time for the first election season since the passing of Senate Bill 202, pushing for voter turnout and civic action.
Early voting for statewide city elections starts on Oct. 12. This will be the first election season since Senate Bill 202 has been signed into law.
Senate Bill 202 became effective on March 25 of this year. Along with it came changes to absentee voting, early voting, vote counting, and many other statewide election processes. Many people saw this as an act of voter suppression and intimidation while others welcomed the new law.
“By and large, people recognize Senate Bill 202 as an effort to make it more difficult for people to vote and as a tactic of voter suppression and voter intimidation,” Keron Blair, Chief Organizing and Field Director at the New Georgia Project, said in an exclusive interview with The Globe. “But the good news is that when we talk to people, more and more people are saying they will not be deterred.”
“We understand everyday people,” Blair says. “We understand that right now Georgia leads the country in terms of the number of people registered to vote. We understand that young people – black, brown, white, across all kinds of economic lines – are registered in this state in higher numbers. People are paying attention, and people are ready to engage.”
For Blair, Senate Bill 202 will also not deter the New Georgia Project from their overall mission.
“The New Georgia Project will do what it has always done,” he says. “That is to show up, that is to register people to vote, [and] that is to run a sophisticated voter protection program.”
On National Voter Registration Day, the New Georgia Project registered a total of 1,000 new voters. As the election season begins, they will push early voter turnout and help people participate in civic engagement in any way they can.
“When we talk about civic engagement, registering to vote [is] one step. Voting is another,” Blair says. “Connecting to a community organization that is statewide, and being involved and volunteering, and giving your time and money is also a part of civic engagement. Because we’re organizers, we also try to encourage people to think about their actions in relationship to a whole.”
The voice of the younger generation
For the younger generation, there is also a place in the movement. Blair emphasizes the importance of college and high school students’ participation in civic engagement.
“There is a political home. There is a place for high school students, college students, young people at the New Georgia Project,” Blair says. “It is called the Agenda for Young Georgians, where we are working on things like police reform and criminal justice reform. We are working on things related to jobs. We are working on things related to college accessibility and affordability. We are making sure young people have access to the ballot.”
Blair also emphasizes the importance for those under the age of 18 getting involved.
“A part of what we want to do is to create this space where people understand registering and voting as only single part of a larger civic engagement pipeline origin,” he says. “So, if you’re not old enough to vote, you can help register people, you can talk to your friends and loved ones who are eligible, and you can help them connect to why it is important. You can be their reason for voting.”
For the New Georgia Project, young people are crucial to their continued mission and goals for achieving more expansive and inclusive elections.
“Engaging young people, engaging folks who are on college campuses is critical. Both now and for the future,” Blair says. “Use your platform. Talk about these issues. Talk about why not only voting but other kinds of civic engagement matter.”
To get involved, visit the newgeorgiaproject.org for resources and opportunities to volunteer for this election season.